Thunder then and now

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Thunder and white strikes of blinding light wake me. I can’t sleep now as my mind goes to how you always protected us.

On summer camping trips, when the storms came, we never got wet. There were canopies on picnic tables, tarps as rain drenched, hot soup, snug sleeping bags and always a dry deck of cards for play.

Loud crashing sounds now, and I lie endlessly awake, waiting for the storm to move into the distance. I wonder if you hear the thunder now, too. There was a time I knew what you thought about. I’m not so sure anymore. Time steals many things from us. One is our ability to think, remember and respond to all that is around us.

You will be back home in a few days, and a new normal will begin. The family will warm the soup, fluff the pillows and mind your every step to keep you from danger.

I’ve been keeping my hands clear from metal tent poles for years now. I’ve held flashlights in my sleep in case I need to move in the night. I’ve practiced taking care of myself for a very long time. Still, approaching storms make my heart race and wish for my father to tell me that everything will be all right.

Photo from Pixabay.

The oil painting: A parable

A young woman went into the market with a plan to buy an art canvas. She was new to painting, and needed an old canvas for practice. Her eyes were really just learning to discern beauty. She saw a dark canvas being sold at a good price. She thought that two or three coats of base would cover the old image. 

Looking closer, she saw a glimmer of blue in the corner. She knew something beautiful could be beneath. If she painted on top, after two layers of whitewash, she would never know what that picture was.

This parable was gifted to me as I prayed for discernment to a matter my younger daughter shared with me. The reason that the matter is so challenging is that we are looking at a surface layer. Many difficult questions require meticulous and painstaking probing to get passed. Which layer holds beauty? How deep do we need to go for clarity?

A red fox family

red-foxes-62941_640When I was little, my father killed a red fox because of a fear it could be rabid. I remember it came out at dusk behind our barn where we had some food scraps composting. Foxes will behave that way normally.

Others find foxes ruthless because they kill chickens. I’m sure I would be heartbroken if I owned chickens and the foxes snatched them. I know many farmers are very clever with fences and coops.

If I had a farm, I might compost food material far away from my house or contain it well. Cats and small dogs might need to stay inside mostly. I’ve read that foxes are quite smart and a bit on the lazy side. They’ll find food in the easiest way that they can.

Let’s think twice about how we can safely co-habitate with wildlife. Foxes are predators of other wildlife you might find even more bothersome.

Last night I dreamed I was running with the wild animals. We had a common purpose and I wasn’t afraid.

A better question

Instead of what is one’s purpose, the better question is what abilities of mine can put cash in my pocket and/or contribute to the greater good?

I’m not sure why, but this kept me awake a bit last night. We can get tripped up by believing popular questions deserve answers.

Purging songs from my play set

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I’m a reasonable minimalist. Not too many clothes or much furniture. I live below my means. Closets are precious real estate zones. Recently I’ve been applying a different filter to songs I keep to play. I think there is a great lesson here for my musical path, as well as my life.

I sing and play guitar. My talents are better than some and far worse than others. Playing is a solitary activity and a group event. Adding items to my potential repertoire is easy. Doing something with them is another. I’ve decided that if I keep a tune for a year or so and can’t find a way to play it by then, it should hit the trash. Loving a song is one thing; effectively covering it is another.

Like many things in life, the clutter of the old keeps the new from taking root. If I flip through my music book and keep seeing a song that I can’t “own,” it wastes my time and precious energy. (It’s a little like reading the blogs of others that don’t resonate and purging that site from your reader. I hope you don’t feel that way about this blog.) Why keep a song that you can’t hit the highs or lows well, or it doesn’t sound good without a driving percussive sound?

The trick to a great song collection to cover is to write down the names of songs when you hear them. Also, playing with others gives you fresh inspiration. I’m going to get very aggressive this weekend and tear through that songbook. Does this strike a chord with any of my readers?

 

 

A three-legged stool and hope

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On display at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee.

Just in case this is not clear enough on the plaque, it reads “WOODEN STOOL – Governor Chiles used this cedar three-legged stool in his 1991 State of the State Address to illustrate that the three branches of government depend on each other.” plaque-with-stool

Like it or love it

Not being one to embrace traditional resolutions, I posed a different question to myself. What do I love doing, and what do I just like doing? I’m focusing here on hobbies and interests. Most of us have any number of things we do in our free time that we enjoy. My challenge was to make a list of about eight personal interests and to make a “like” and a “love” column. The answers were interesting – but not surprising.

What was the point of this exercise? To focus on the things that give maximum personal satisfaction and meaning to my life today. It’s probable that this list will change over time, as it has before. By frequent assessment, I can be sure that I’m not doing the same thing I did yesterday just out of habit. Old habits can curtail new interests and possibilities.

I’m a big fan of asking the right questions of myself. Living life can be a mindless adventure without some sense that you’ve got your life pointed towards the North Star. The hardest part may be seeing that proverbial star in the cloudy sky.

Let me just say that I am no existentialist. The questions of what we love doing, and the pursuit of those interests, are not in conflict with religious faith. My offering for today is a suggestion to get clarity on where you spend your precious free hours. A mindless wandering can trip you in your own doorway.